• The Sound Sleeper

Improve your sleep to better manage anxiety

Due to COVID-19, we are dealing with several new realities — social distancing, working from home, and less time spent in person with family and friends. As a result, our anxiety may be high, and we may have trouble falling or staying asleep. Below are a few tips to help support your sleep and better manage stress and anxiety.

Stay active

Exercise has been found to both lower anxiety and improve sleep. Make time to move your body in the morning or afternoon to help keep your sleep and wake cycle on track. However, try not to exercise right before bed, as it can actually inhibit deep sleep.

Create a sleep sanctuary

Control the light, sound, and temperature of your bedtime to foster a good night’s rest. The darker, quieter, and cooler you keep your bedroom, the greater chance you have of quickly falling asleep and staying asleep. Taking a shower or bath shortly before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep more easily.

Watch your late caffeine intake

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant beloved across the entire world. But all good things are best enjoyed in moderation. Drinking too much caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety—or “the jitters”—and consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycles. Also be on the lookout for hidden caffeine!

Limit alcohol consumption

Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can increase your heart rate and keep you awake. If you’re one to have a nightly drink to help fall asleep, know that alcohol may initially help you drift off, but it’s not doing you any favors in the long run. Alcohol prevents you from getting deep, restorative sleep, which leads to feeling unrefreshed and tired when you wake up.

Calm your mind with intentional exercises

There are many relaxation techniques that can help calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are a few, but it can also be as simple as taking a short walk during the day. If you practice techniques for calming your mind during the day, then it will be easier to trigger your relaxation response at night.

Limit your screen time

Your phone, tablet, and TV emit blue light that keeps your brain awake, so try to limit them an hour before bedtime. Checking email or doing work right before bed can also trigger anxious thoughts and make it difficult to stay calm. Set an alarm to remind you to turn off electronics before bed and try listening to music or reading a book to quiet your mind.

The biggest takeaway here is that anxiety can cause poor sleep and vice versa, poor sleep can worsen feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s important to take care of yourself, especially during this global pandemic. Speak with your doctor if you have worsening sleep or anxiety (or both) and don’t forget to give yourself some grace—we’re all in uncharted territory right now.

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What you eat can have tremendous impact on your sleep health and overall wellbeing. One of the most challenging aspects of adopting a healthier lifestyle is correcting unhealthy eating habits you may not realize you have. Here are seven unhealthy eating habits that may be standing in your way of a healthier lifestyle.

You eat too fast

This unhealthy eating habit may not be obvious at first, especially if those around you eat just as fast. When we eat too fast we aren’t giving our brains enough time to register that we’re full. Make a conscious effort to pause 1-2 minutes between bites—you may be surprised at how quickly you fill up!

You always clean your plate

Our eyes are always bigger than our stomach. Another unhealthy eating habit is our tendency to load our plate up with more food than we need and then feel compelled to eat it all. Try eating off smaller plates and store leftovers.

You eat based on the clock, not your appetite

Just because it’s noon, doesn’t mean you need to eat lunch. Only eat when you feel hungry, and be mindful that sometimes we think we’re hungry when we’re actually feeling another emotion such as anxiety, sadness, or boredom.

You stress eat

When you find yourself reaching for food between meals, pause and reflect on your current emotional state. Try drinking a large glass of water and waiting 10-15 minutes. You may find you’re no longer hungry and you were instead looking for food to comfort you.

You always eat dessert

One of the harder unhealthy eating habits to break involves reducing your sugar consumption. Ending each meal with a sweet treat may seem harmless but most desserts—even homemade—are full of sugar and processed ingredients. Eat desserts in moderation and always read the labels.

You don’t plan ahead

Your chances of caving and ordering fast food for dinner are much higher when you haven’t planned your meals ahead. You’re also more likely to impulsively order too much food. Meal planning and prepping for the week can be a life-changing addition to your lifestyle.

You don’t include the whole family

Unhealthy eating habits are even harder to break when you’re doing it alone. Encourage the entire family to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Try cooking together, taking family walks after dinner, and meal prepping.